Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on May 11, 2017 in Stuff You Should Know

Beauty Queen

Mikayla Holmgren is a 22-year-old college student, dancer, and mentor for other young women. What sets her apart from other women her age? In November, she will become the first woman with Down syndrome to compete in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant.

Holmgren has participated in several beauty contests in the past. She began dancing at age 6 and competes with the dance team at Bethel University. She won’t be able to dance at the Miss Minnesota pageant because there’s no talent category, but she will be able to talk about her love of dance during the interview portion of the competition. Holmgren says she wants to be seen for more than just her disability. Down syndrome is a disorder of the 21st chromosome that happens at or around the time of conception, and can result in a wide variety of physical and cognitive symptoms.

In recent years, beauty pageants such as Miss USA have faced criticism for promoting traditional standards of beauty for women, such as being a certain body type or having a certain hair or eye color. But pageant representatives argue that Holmgren represents how these standards of beauty are changing. Last year, for example, a 19-year-old woman became the first person to compete in the same pageant wearing a hijab and burkini.

If Holmgren wins, she will go on to compete in the Miss USA competition. That winner will continue on to the Miss Universe contest.

What Do You Think? Some people view beauty contests such as the Miss USA pageant as anti-woman because they reduce women to objects of beauty. Others feel they are an empowering opportunity for women to showcase their talents. What is your opinion of beauty pageants, and why? Does the fact that women such as Holmgren are allowed to compete affect your point of view? Explain.

Apple Invests in U.S. Jobs

Mixed race businessman examining graph on digital tablet

Apple is trying to kickstart the economy.

Apple, the world’s most valuable public company, has announced that it will invest $1 billion in companies that use advanced manufacturing, to help create new jobs for Americans. Advanced manufacturing means producing goods in fields such as technology, automobiles, medical equipment, sustainable energy, and aerospace, and may also involve the use of robotics or 3D printing. Apple has said that it may also fund programs that will teach people how to write computer code to create apps.

During his campaign, President Trump singled out Apple, saying that he would put pressure on the company to start producing their iPhones and iPads in the United States instead of China. Apple will continue to produce these goods overseas. However, this $1 billion investment fund seems to be a way for the company to still meet some of Trump’s demands.

With the recent push by the Trump administration to keep manufacturing jobs in the U.S., some experts are concerned that there will not be enough laborers to fill these jobs, especially in cities such as New York and Los Angeles. The downfall in manufacturing jobs in recent decades has driven many people to look for work in other fields, such as food service, and now there may not be enough people with the necessary skills seeking work in manufacturing.

Dig Deeper Visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Web site to find out how much a typical factory worker earns per hour, versus the hourly wage for the average hotel and food services employee. Based on this information, which is the more desirable field?

U.S. Reaches Full Employment . . . Or Does It?

April’s jobs report, released last Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, gave American workers much to be pleased about. First off, the unemployment rate is at a ten-year low. In fact, the nation is close to achieving (or has already achieved) full employment, which is what economists call a low unemployment rate of anywhere between 4 and 6% (the U.S. rate is currently at 4.4 percent). When the economy has reached full employment, anyone who wants a job is able to get one, and companies have to offer incentives such as pay raises and benefits to lure in potential workers.

In addition to lower unemployment overall, April also saw a continued drop in the U-6 rate, which refers to people who work part-time but want a full-time job, or to people who have given up looking for a job altogether. As of April, the U-6 rate is 8.6%, the lowest it has been since November 2007.

However, the unemployment rate doesn’t tell the whole story. Of some concern to economists is the fact that average hourly earnings are barely keeping up with rising inflation. Hourly wages were up 0.3 percent in April, and 2.5 percent over the past year. Meanwhile, inflation measures are near 2 percent. Before the recession, in 2006 and 2007, non-managerial workers could expect a wage growth of 4 percent or more per year. Now, however, the average is only 2.3 percent. What this means is that even though the employment rate is high, if employers don’t feel the need to offer incentives to their employees through higher pay, the U.S. has not yet reached true full employment status.

Dig Deeper Most U.S. economists agree that the country is at full employment when the unemployment rate falls between 4 and 6 percent. According to the Fed, a jobless rate of 4.7 percent is ideal in the long run. Why do you think that number isn’t 0 percent?

Crayola’s New Color

In April, btw brought you the story of Crayola retiring the color Dandelion from its 24-count crayon boxes. Now, the company has replaced Dandelion with a new color: a bright blue hue inspired by the YInMn blue pigment.

YInMn was created by accident in a chemistry lab at Oregon State University in 2009. The chemists were trying to find a new material to be used in electronics. But when a sample of yttrium, indium, and manganese oxides were heated to a temperature of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the result was a bright, brilliant blue pigment. The name of the pigment, YInMn, gets its name from the three elements that compose it. The professor who discovered the pigment, Mas Subramanian, says he hopes the new crayon will inspire children and excite them about what science can do.

The new crayon, which will be the fourth shade of blue in the 24-count box, won’t be released until late 2017. So far, it doesn’t even have a name. Crayola is taking suggestions to name the new crayon until June 2. On July 1, the top five names will be revealed, and people will have a chance to vote on their favorite. The winning name will be announced in September.

What Do You Think? Try your hand at naming the new crayon! Working with a partner, come up with a possible name (or two, or three) for the new shade. Then visit the Crayola Web site at to enter your name for a chance to win and become a part of crayon history!